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ARCHITECTURE, DESIGN, INTERIORS + PROPERTY

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A MOTIVATE PUBLICATION

ISSUE 214 / NOVEMBER 2021

The Imagination Issue

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contents

Features 24

Reconstructing heritage X Architects reveals three projects in Dubai’s Shindagha neighbourhood

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African modernism CICES is a modernist icon that is currently being preserved in Dakar

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A city in motion Asif Khan’s design for Expo 2020 Dubai’s public realm references human movement

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Crafting dreams Enter the fantastical world of Lebanese artist Rumi Dalle

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Life in frames A home in Amman showcases locally made furniture alongside design classics

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London calling

Photography by Jason O’Rear

This Notting Hill penthouse boasts a timeless urban regufe

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Parisian minimalism Step inside this Parisian home that combines contemporary and classical design

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Photography by Fernando Guerra

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Design Focus

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Products

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Library

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#idmostwanted



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Editor-in-Chief Obaid Humaid Al Tayer Managing Partner and Group Editor Ian Fairservice Group Director Andrew Wingrove Editor Aidan Imanova Designer Hannah Perez Sub-editor Max Tuttle Chief Commercial Officer Anthony Milne Group Sales Manager Manish Chopra Senior Sales Manager Neha Kannoth Sales Representative - Italy Daniela Prestinoni General Manager - Production Sunil Kumar Assistant Production Manager Binu Purandaran Production Supervisor Venita Pinto Contributors Karine Monié

identity magazine is printed by Emirates Printing Press. Member of:

Head Office: Media One Tower, PO Box 2331, Dubai, UAE; Tel: +971 4 427 3000, Fax: +971 4 428 2260; E-mail: motivate@ motivate.ae Dubai Media City: SD 2-94, 2nd Floor, Building 2, Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 390 3550 Fax: +971 4 390 4845 Abu Dhabi: PO Box 43072, UAE, Tel: +971 2 677 2005; Fax: +971 2 677 0124; E-mail: motivate-adh@motivate.ae London: Acre House, 11/15 William Road, London NW1 3ER, UK; E-mail: motivateuk@motivate.ae

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Photo by Young Habibti

Jean-Jacques Rousseau once said that “the world of reality has its limits [while] the world of imagination is boundless.” Looking back at some of the greatest achievements in design and architecture, it is impossible to think that these could have been brought to life without the creator’s ability to imagine a better world. Innovations are only possible if a person is able to imagine that something which doesn’t exist in reality today can, in fact, be. This month’s issue sheds light on the people whose imagination has brought forth some spectacular results, be it reimagining a prototype for a future city or creating physical worlds out of stories and memories. Our cover this month features the work of Lebanese artist and designer Rumi Dalle, photographed by Lebanese photographer Tarek Moukaddem, specially commissioned by identity in collaboration with leading Lebanese carpet gallery Iwan Maktabi. For this special photoshoot, Rumi poses with pieces from her recent collection for the carpet gallery, called ‘It felt like a dream’. The abstract wall tapestries that are created in felt from Turkey look strangely at home in the Maison Feghali mansion located on Beirut’s Sursock Street, which is currently undergoing major reconstruction and restoration works after being severely damaged by the devastating Beirut Blast on 4 August last year. Rumi’s work was the perfect fit for ‘The Imagination Issue’ as its timeless appeal lends itself to something that could possibly be from out of this world. Rumi taps into her inner world to retrieve memories and experiences which give life to all her designs. Her most recent work is a commission for Dubai Design Week called ‘The Dream’, which will be on show from 8 to 12 November. “It’s really about composing a Lebanese dream,” she says of the installation. In other parts of the magazine, we look towards the African continent to discover a modern architectural masterpiece that is on the verge of decline – yet which is now set to be preserved by Moroccan and Senegalese architects Aziza Chaouni and Mourtada Gueye. The expansive fairground was the result of a vision by Senegal’s first post-independence president – a visionary man who commissioned the complex in 1971 to imagine what a modern Senegal could look like, while still maintaining the vitality of its cultural heritage. This month has also been a very busy one as the identity Design Awards are drawing near. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing the many exceptional projects from across the region, and I eagerly anticipate announcing the winners at the event on 17 November. I wish everyone the best of luck and look forward to seeing many of you very soon.

Aidan Imanova Editor

Photography by Tarek Moukaddem in collaboration with Iwan Maktabi

Editor’s Note

On the cover: The Architect wall tapestry designed by Rumi Dalle for Iwan Maktabi, part of a collection called 'It felt like a dream'



art

Transcending time For the first time in history, the Pyramids of Giza have become home to an international contemporary art exhibition WORDS BY KARINE MONIÉ PHOTOGRAPHY BY PIXCELLE PHOTOGRAPHY

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s someone who’s been working on the contemporary art scene in Egypt, I had always been fascinated by the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir,” confesses Nadine Abdel Ghaffar, founder of Art D’Égypte – an all-women Egyptian company that supports the heritage and visual art sectors. “I thought the perfect pairing would be to fuse historical sites with contemporary art, as I believe it is through the lens of contemporary artists that we can see today’s society.”

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‘Forever Is Now’, the fourth annual exhibition of Art D’Égypte, perfectly encapsulates this approach. From 21 October until 7 November, works by 10 renowned artists – Alexander Ponomarev, Gisela Colón, João Trevisan, JR, Lorenzo Quinn, Moataz Nasr, Sherin Guirguis, Shuster + Moseley, Stephen Cox RA and Prince Sultan Bin Fahad – are being showcased in a unique environment, offering an encounter between past and present. “This exhibition is incomparable to any other, as the Pyramids of Giza is the last standing heritage

site of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World,” says Abdel Ghaffar. “‘Forever is Now’ combines contemporary art with the profound, global influence of ancient Egypt. We have been inspired by the notion that cultural heritage is the continuity of humanity.” Representing a true challenge, this show comprises impressive artworks, each one telling a story in a different way. Among them is ‘Here I Have Returned’ (with a form inspired by an ancient sacred musical


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instrument) by Sherin Guirguis, which pays tribute to the women who have supported Egyptian society and culture through history. For Lorenzo Quinn, creating the piece ‘Together’ was a dream come true. “One of the reasons I chose to be a sculptor is for its longevity,” he says. “The idea of possibly being able to communicate with future generations through the art I leave behind has always mesmerised me. Art has the ability to cheat death and to make you immortal. […] I decided to create a site-specific

sculpture that would hopefully not interfere with the surroundings but somehow support their majestic timeless beauty, a sculpture that would outline the human connection throughout time.” ‘(Plan of the Path of Light) In the House of Hidden Places’ is what the duo behind Shuster + Moseley has imagined for this very special event. “It feels like the stars have aligned, because our work looks at the relationship between light and space and geometry, and the pyramids are such a powerful embodiment

of those things,” notes Claudia Moseley. For Abdel Ghaffar and her team, the motivation behind making such an exceptional exhibition lies in the desire to make art accessible to all. “It is a testimony to what our ancestors have done before us, presenting breath-taking art to the world in the most public manner,” she says. In parallel to this exhibition, Art D’Égypte is also bringing the ultra-realistic artificial intelligence robot named Ai-Da to the country for the first time, pushing boundaries even further. THE IMAGINATION ISSUE 11 Nasr ‘Barzakh’ by Moataz


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Timeless appeal After thirty years of designing elegantly harmonious interiors, Charles Zana is returning to his love for furniture with the launch of his first collectible design collection WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA PHOTOGRAPHY BY FRANÇOIS HALARD

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rench architect and interior designer Charles Zana is best known for his graceful take on interiors – from private homes to hospitality projects. For 30 years Zana has been developing spaces of new traditions, where classicism and a contemporary approach are married with emotion and artistic harmony. The designer is now on a new journey in his career with the launch of his first-ever collection of furniture and lighting which was unveiled during FIAC in the setting of a stunning 18th-century Parisian townhouse, Hôtel de Guise. The exhibition – Ithaque – is a prelude to the official launch of Charles Zana Mobilier in January 2022. “My early passion for furniture is actually what led me towards pursuing a career in architecture,” Zana begins. “That is why the exhibition is called Ithaque, because there’s this idea and symbolism of a voyage, exploration of other realms and ideas, only to return home to what you know and love. After the Covid-19 crisis, I wanted to return to my first love, furniture; [to] apply my 30 years of experience as an architect and interior designer and demonstrate this collection as the product of an inspired, creative path that evokes my identity and values, [and] my manifesto for design. That is what I want Charles Zana Mobilier to be.”

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Champel sofa in solid oak (tinted/ varnished) and fabric Edge 2 table, featuring green Ming top and legs in brushed cedar


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For his first collection, Zana draws on his deep admiration for designers of the 1930s: the natural materials of Jean-Michel Frank, the compositional tension of Pierre Chareau, and the sensuality of Gio Ponti. Working together with French artisans, Ithaque proposes a celebration of a new luxury, where forms are simpler, and materials take on raw properties while still dressed in an elegance of textures and proportions. “Before the pandemic, we were living in more of a Baroque, decorative moment, but now we’re going toward things that are simpler, more authentic and made of natural materials that play with proportions, which absolutely speaks more to my tastes. I love architecture and design that pay homage to local crafts, raw materials and classic proportions – but that are of a resolutely modern aesthetic,” he says. “As a trained architect and art lover, I am guided by three fundamental principles: proportion, elegance and comfort. As such, you

Matteo armchair in solid oak tinted and velvet Yos table lamp featuring a wood base and paper lampshade

will find the pieces of this collection aim to find the intersection of luxury and necessity; the minimalistic purity within the base purpose of the piece but clothed in indulgent fabrics like velvet; the colours deep and rich but subdued in its overall palette.” Highlights from the collection include a classic armchair in solid oak, upholstered in nutmeg toned fabric, and stylish oak frame chairs with both suede and woven leather seats, each displaying Zana’s skill at marrying diverse fine materials. The lighting designs include suspended, floor and wall lamps in varying shapes, ranging from floor lamps that mimic the structure of an organ to a lantern with a shade of curved coloured glass segments that pays homage to the workmanship of Venetian master glassblowers. “With this new collection I seek to achieve the same balance between purity of forms, simplicity of volumes and functionality, as I embark on a new quest to create timeless design,” Zana notes. id

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Tunisian-born, French designer Charles Zana at the Ithaque exhibition



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Photography by Joe Mortell

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Visual movement

Comprising four mesmerising pieces, the new collection by Ocrum Studios reflects emotions through subtle forms and colours WORDS BY KARINE MONIÉ

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Photography by Ocrum Studios

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ntrigued by the objects that have surrounded him since a young age, Sean Zhang found his passion for design while attending craft classes in high school. Born in Beijing, he studied in Italy and the United States, then worked in Japan, France and Germany, before settling down in New York where he founded his Brooklyn-based company Ocrum Studios. Made of marble, glass, wood and ceramic, Zhang’s furniture, lighting, mirrors and decorative accessories mix classic sensibilities, innovation and craftsmanship. Evoking memories and creating emotions, each piece reflects a timeless and minimalist aesthetic with pure lines and shapes. Ocrum Studios’ new collection, which comprises four pieces – a lamp, a side table and two mirrors – was born during the pandemic. “When everyone was locked down at home, I started to think about how physical items could emotionally ‘interact’ with humans,” remembers Zhang, who took about six months to bring this line to life. The designer worked with local marble, hand-blown glass and ceramic craftsmen to achieve the perfect result. Called Lacrima, which means ‘teardrop’ in Latin, the pendant lamp was the starting point of the whole collection. “I wanted to make a piece that looked like a human eye with a teardrop, but in an abstract way,” Zhang says. “People

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can have different perspectives when seeing it: It could be a tear of happiness or a tear of another emotion. My idea is to express that the world/Earth is observing human behaviours. We create new technologies; we improve ourselves, but we also cause some damages. No matter what we do, there are some ‘eyes’ observing us.” With its flat metal frame that looks like a globe, the Sphere side table challenges visual perceptions with an optical illusion. This piece, as well as the Arch (with its window shape) and Nang (meaning ‘capsule’ in Chinese) mirrors are a continuation of the Lacrima pendant lamp and the Orizon mirror from Ocrum Studios’ previous collection, which was inspired by views of Lake Como in Italy and Lake Michigan in Chicago (both places in which Zhang has lived). In all four pieces, subtle tones prevail. “There are not strong or bright colours, because this series is about forms and emotions,” says Zhang. “With people spending more time at home during the pandemic, I came up with the idea of creating objects that could give the space some visual movement and effect to enhance it. This collection is a continuation of my design style, but in a more dramatic way.” id



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The colour of sound

WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA PHOTOGRAPHY BY SAMOS

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Manmade Studio has created a bespoke furniture collection inspired by the unique characteristics of the oud

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hen Manmade Studio received a commission to design the furniture for a private residence, they were not aware that it would lead them to discover a new world of knowledge and inspiration. Jassim AlNashmi, who leads the studio, explains that while the initial brief from the client was clear in its requirements, one particular request stood out to him, which was to design an oud display. Upon enquiring about the significance of the request, he came to learn that his client was in fact an Arabic music connoisseur and a collector of the oud – a string instrument of Middle Eastern origin. “When we decided the oud display will be the statement piece that informs all the other pieces in the collection, I became invested in learning about the instrument,” AlNashmi explains. What interested the designer most about the oud was the craftsmanship behind it – an interest that he shared with his client, who can tell the quality of an oud simply by looking at it. AlNashmi was then introduced to a renowned Kuwaiti oud-maker, from whom he learnt the many distinct nuances of making and understanding the instrument. “[The oud maker told me that] he had to always know the colour of the sound before he started, and continued explaining the process – but I had to stop him and say ‘excuse me, but what are you talking about? What does colour have to do with it?’ And it turned out that it was quite normal for oud-makers and oud connoisseurs to discuss sound in this way,” AlNashmi shares. “He said that it was

very practical to explain to someone what type of sound an oud will make by describing it as a colour. This was so fascinating to me that it [became] the concept that informed the [overall] collection.” He goes on to explain that, in order to translate this concept into furniture, he had to learn about synaesthesia – a neurological condition where ‘information [that is] meant to stimulate one of your senses, stimulates several senses.’ “It’s only logical that many of our beloved visual and musical artists see colours when they hear sound or music, and vice versa – [such as] Wassily Kandinsky, Pharrell Williams, Vincent van Gogh, Duke Ellington, David Hockney and Stevie Wonder,” AlNashmi says. For an oud maker, every decision – from the type of wood and its thickness to the type of strings – informs how the instrument will sound. The same sensibility was applied to the collection, giving shape to the curves, the materials and even the way light interacts with the pieces. The ‘neck’ or ‘arm’ (which is where the strings rest and the fingers pluck) became a primary motif that is repeated to create ‘structure and rhythm’, while nuances such as bronze strips and copper mesh add colour. While the collection is made entirely in Kuwait, the various materials used across the collection – including oak, reconstituted walnut veneer, bronze, stainless steel, copper mesh, copper-plated steel, grey travertine and canvas fabrics – were sourced from various parts of the world. THE IMAGINATION ISSUE

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media partnership

A celebration of design

MODU Method by Omar Al Gurg for the UAE Designer Exhibition 2.0

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This year’s Dubai Design Week (which is taking place from 8-13 November) spans architecture, craft and design, with a greater focus on regional talent


media partnership

Adrian Pepe for The Beirut Concept Store at Downtown Design 2021

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hile Dubai continues to establish itself as the design capital of the Middle East, and is home to creatives from all over the region, Dubai Design Week has become the obvious platform to showcase the wide-ranging yet rooted identity of what design from this part of the world has to offer. This year’s edition also acts as an anchor for struggling design economies, with a key focus on supporting the design community in Lebanon – spotlighting rising and established Lebanese design talent throughout its programming, ranging from architectural installations to product designs. The Beirut Concept Store is part of this initiative, featuring works by 50 established and emerging creatives based in Lebanon, and showcasing everything from tableware and furniture design to gift items. An important aspect of Dubai Design Week is its series of installations which will be spread across Dubai Design District, the central hub of the festival. Responding to this year’s theme of

Mleiha Archeological Centre by Dabbagh Architects

regenerative architecture and restorative design, the highly-anticipated Abwab Pavilion – which has, over the years, become a staple installation of the event – will be created by Dubai-based Ahmed El-Sharabassy. It features an architectural structure called ‘Nature in Motion’, referencing the constant motion of the Dubai desert while emulating the city’s continuous development. The pavilion will also host an exhibition called ‘Pulp Fusion’ that is centred around the human impact on the planet and has been curated by Beirut-based architecture and research firm Bits to Atoms. ‘The Shape of Light’ is another installation to look out for; designed by conceptual art studio Shuster + Mosley, it explores geometric prismatic forms through a large-scale glass installation. Ana Carreras has also created an immersive installation titled ‘Athenaeum’, which will illuminate the recent findings at the 3000-year-old city of Mleiha, while Anarchitect and Cosentino’s collaboration invites visitors to discover the intriguing play of penetrated light created via a naturally occurring

optical phenomenon through a low-tech installation that uses carbon-neutral materials. In other areas of the design week, the UAE Designer Exhibition 2.0 remains one of the highlights of the exhibition programme, showcasing works by 25 emerging creative talents who are based – and producing – locally. Another exhibition that is worth highlighting is the 2040: d3 Architecture Exhibition that features five architectural firms presenting concepts of how Dubai could look in 20 years. The curatorial firms include Beyrac Architects, Dabbagh Architects, MEAN* Design x Concreative, RMJM Dubai and Tariq Khayyat Design Partners (TKDP). 2021 also sees the physical return of Downtown Design, hosting over 130 international and regional brands and designers including Lelièvre Paris, De Facto Mobil, Bõln Furniture and Ethimo. Downtown Editions – which is also set within the overall fair – will showcase limited-edition and bespoke design, with a spotlight on the region. THE IMAGINATION ISSUE

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Reconstructing heritage X Architects have designed three distinct projects that are part of a wider initiative to conserve and restore Dubai’s Shindagha neighbourhood WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA PHOTOGRAPHY BY FERNANDO GUERRA

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et on the shore of Dubai Creek, Al Shindagha is bordered on the south by Bur Dubai and on the west by Port Rashid. It began its expansion when Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai from 1912 to 1958, settled in the area. The neighbourhood is now part of Dubai’s Historic District, alongside Deira and Bur Dubai, and is currently undergoing major conservation and renovation works that will ultimately result in it becoming a prominent cultural destination. Part of this ambitious project are three newly completed cultural buildings designed by Dubaibased X Architects – the Shindagha Expo 2020 Welcome Pavilion, Story of the Creek Museum and the Perfume House – comprising both newly built structures and renovated buildings. The architects studied the heritage and context of Al Shindagha to inform their designs, which looked to revive and restore the area’s identity while allowing for contemporary interventions. Due to Al Shindagha’s layered history, the architects focused on creating buildings that embody a coherent synthesis between the old and new, while studying its distinct materiality and textures such as the Areesh (palm leaf) and teak wood, which played a vital role in the building

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of wooden dhows that were present in the area. Traditionally, the district’s urban fabric expressed a balanced fusion of natural and man-made elements, which the architects aimed to maintain within the projects. “To create a harmonious integration between the old and new we had to study the context and history of the place and maintain elements such as the ceiling materiality, textured wall finishes and wooden doors,” the architects explain. “We tried to bring in natural light and, [in the Museum and Perfume House,] provide innovative ceiling designs inspired by Arabic patterns and geometries.” The Shindagha Expo 2020 Welcome Pavilion is a newly built structure that acts as a meeting point and information centre for visitors to Dubai’s Historic District. The building is set between traditional mud houses and is designed as an open ‘plaza’ with a teakwood roof. The flexibility of its shifting walls – which are made of glass window panels – allows for the space to either be contained or to flow outdoors. The Story of the Creek Museum, on the other hand, is a renovation of an existing building and serves as an introduction to the history of Dubai, telling the story of the city’s growth and development over the years.

“The Story of the Creek Museum is situated in a historic house which we wanted to honour and enhance. It includes an exhibition that gives an overview of Dubai’s history, society, and [the] leadership of the Al Maktoum Family,” the architects add. The museum also sheds light on the importance of Dubai Creek and its role as a generator of trade, wealth and success for the emirate. The building features materials such as wooden doors and windows (which have been preserved) and a newly designed perforated steel and glass roof structure – elements that one will also find in the design of the Perfume House. Historically, the Perfume House was the residence of Sheikha Sheikha Bint Saeed Al Maktoum, renowned perfumer and aunt of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, current Emir of Dubai. Several of the items displayed in the Perfume House are from Sheikha Sheikha Bint Saeed Al Maktoum’s personal collection, the architects say. By exploring Emirati culture through scent and the heritage that stems from its fabrication and use, the Perfume House allows visitors to explore a variety of scents that are unique to Dubai via ‘perfume stations’, offering a distinct perspective into the intangible heritage of the city. id


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African modernism Moroccan architect Aziza Chaouni is working towards preserving and revitalising a modernist masterpiece in Dakar WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA PHOTOGRAPHY BY SEYNI B

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t was perhaps serendipity that Moroccan architect Aziza Chaouni stopped her taxi on the way to the airport to observe the architecture of the Centre International du Commerce Extérieur du Sénégal (CICES) – a modern masterpiece in Senegal’s capital, Dakar – only to meet the director of the fairground by chance, who informed her that the project was slated for demolition. This was the start of the architect’s mission to launch a bid to conserve and rehabilitate the modernist landmark. Built in 1974, CICES is a 19-hectare international fairground commissioned by Senegal’s first president since its independence from France in 1960, Léopold Sédar Senghor, who was both a politician and a poet. Senghor was an important figure in promoting pan-Africanism and the reclamation of African heritage through cultural initiatives. The commission to build

an international fairground as an expression of post-colonial independence embodied this vision – here would be a place to share innovations among the continent’s promising entrepreneurs within an architecture that expressed the rich cultural heritage of the continent. CICES is characterised by a series of triangular and trapezoidal forms set within an architectural composition inspired by Seghour’s interest in ‘asymmetrical parallelism’, which promotes a repetition of similar motifs in an asymmetrical fashion, relating to rhythms found in jazz music and patterns found across African art and architecture. The fairground features a variety of structures and functions such as triangular concrete pavilions that house incubators for start-ups; colour-coded regional exhibition halls; as well as an impressive 2000-seat auditorium which was originally clad in copper.

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French architects Jean-François Lamoureux and Jean-Louis Marin won the competition to design the project in 1971, and married traditional local and regional motifs within a modernist framework. They also collaborated with local architects and builders, creating an architecture that represents a pan-African vision through aesthetics, symbolism, materiality and engineering. Over the years, neglect of the fairground led to its decline, with the architecture currently in a state of deterioration. Last year, Chaouni, together with Senegalese architect Mourtada Gueye received a ‘Keeping it Modern’ grant from the Getty Foundation to conserve and rehabilitate the project. The grant was established in 2014 to address a worldwide lack of expertise in preserving modernist buildings. The architects’ multi-step preservation process includes research and data collection as well as conducting in-depth diagnostic studies of CICES’s buildings and infrastructure to develop a comprehensive conservation plan for the complex. “The idea is to imagine it as a multi-programme

vision,” Chaouni says, explaining that while CICES will remain a fairground to host various exhibitions, the plan is to readapt the complex to allow additional functions and cultural events to take place all year round – such as food festivals, fashion shows and concerts. The architect also spoke about readapting some of the buildings to create a hotel in order to generate income for the project in the long term. Additional plans include reviving the development’s underground cooling system and passive ventilation, readapting clever low-tech solutions and reviving its already impressive acoustic system, as well as renewing its deteriorating concrete construction and fixing previously designed custom-made doors. Chaouni and Gueye involved one of the original architects of the complex, who has returned to the site after many years to assess what elements of the original design can be brought back and preserved, and where contemporary interventions may be necessary. The mission, above all, is to preserve the identity of CICES

and communicate its importance as an icon of Senegal’s cultural heritage. “It is a mixture between rehabilitating what is already there, – which is already incredible – recovering things that have disappeared from the original design and creating new additions,” Chaouni says. The site, which used to exist outside the city’s periphery, has now joined Dakar’s suburban sprawl due to the city’s growth and is presently being informally used by the neighbouring local population for picnics, sporting activities and exercise. “There is always the challenge when you work on a project like this, which is the risk of it becoming gentrified,” Chaouni states, adding that her own approach is that of ‘collaborative design’ which prioritises engaging the local population from inception, helping to create a sense of pride in the population to understand and protect the complex. “Based on my experience, if we don’t do this, we will end up with a gated community, and we all know that those types of models are not functioning anymore for a public project.”

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Chaouni has also launched a social media campaign called ‘Our CICES’ across Instagram and WhatsApp to raise awareness about the importance of the complex and its role as a heritage symbol. “Just because it is made from concrete does not mean that it is not Senegalese; the architecture is very Senegalese. It has potential for the city, to become a public space, not just an events space,” Chaouni says. The architect has roots in the country: her mother was born and raised in Senegal, while her grandfather was a trader of goods between Senegal and Morocco. “The project is also about me transferring knowledge that I gained in Morocco,” Chaouni explains, who had received a similar grant from the Getty Foundation in 2017 to develop a conservation plan for Morocco’s

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modernist Sidi Harazem bath complex, designed by architect Jean-François Zevaco, which is currently also in the works. Chaouni is hoping to create a cultural programme similar to the one she has launched in Morocco through an initiative she had co-founded called MADÏ, which aims to activate abandoned heritage spaces through arts and culture. The initiative also aims to raise awareness about the importance of African modernist buildings and their significance as heritage for the continent. “A lot of these modernist buildings were built for independence,” she clarifies, using the bath complex as an example. “It was not built by the French; it is a Moroccan building that aimed to present its own image of independence, and

the same applies in Senegal. These buildings are deeply local. But again, this is a history that a lot of people don’t know, so there needs to be a lot more awareness around these buildings. And this is a huge part of our work; and it is why in the last decade our office has been focusing on collaborative design with the users and clients to ensure the success of the projects. “As an architect, I think you need to have an activist [approach] and a political will. If you are interested in truly making a change and improving people’s lives, it is a necessity,” Chaouni says. “And this is how the field of architecture in the modernist fashion used to be; you had a role on a wider scale. That role has unfortunately gotten lost, but I cannot imagine practicing architecture without it.” id


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ASIF KHAN’S DESIGN FOR THE PUBLIC REALM OF EXPO 2020 DUBAI EXPLORES THE NOTION OF MOVEMENT IN THE DESERT WHILE REFLECTING ON ITS NATURAL AND POETIC FEATURES 34


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WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA PHOTOGRAPHY BY JASON O’REAR

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hile many are familiar with British architect Asif Khan’s work on the magnificent carbon fibre gates that welcome visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai, his design scope in fact spans the wider public realm of the overall site: an open-air pavilion in its own right. Khan first entered the project through a competition bid to design the Mobility Pavilion (which eventually went to Foster + Partners); however, a year later the architect returned to drive the design concept for the public areas of the overall site. “My interpretation was to bring scale, emotion and human senses to the public realm,” Khan tells identity. A focus on the sense of arrival to the site, and the navigation that follows, led to the idea of sequences that reference traditional Arab cities, building on the relationship between a gateway, a courtyard and ‘the medina’ (the overall Expo site). “Our work was to help visitors navigate intuitively, while also creating a design which was born from ideas present in this region,” Khan says. Creating a variety of structural scales was vital to this concept of navigation, with visitors starting their journey at the drop-off area, then walking past (or through) the flags, entering through the portals to the arrivals and finally reaching the welcome plaza. The architect’s work additionally spans everything from the walking tracks and the landscaping, seating and lighting to a floating observation garden.

No doubt the entry portals are the most monumental of Khan’s contributions to Dubai’s Expo site and are evocative of the many architectural and engineering innovations launched across World Expos historically – from Joseph Paxton’s glass and iron Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 to Gustave Eiffel’s skeletal tower designed for Paris in 1889, which has become a symbol of the city itself. Khan – who is of Pakistani and East African descent – concentrated on using the task at hand to communicate the vast amounts of knowledge and innovation that are native to the Middle East and nearby regions, yet are often left out of rhetoric. “The entry portals feel monumental because of where they appear in the sequence [of arrival], and that is something that was planned. That moment of arrival – the threshold needed to be monumental and memorable – [is on] a scale appropriate to welcome guests to Expo 2020,” Khan says. Standing 21 metres high and wide and 30 metres long, and woven entirely from strands of ultra-lightweight carbon fibre, the portals are formed of a series of translucent 2D planes in a repeating geometric pattern – referencing mashrabiya – and layered to create a 3D design that is the result of complex structural engineering, where each and every line contributes to holding the structure in place.


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“If you look at the different scales – for example, the sub-atomic and then the human scale – they are all connected, and this relates to the importance of science and the convergence of science and art in religion, which are really important topics to me and this region. These themes come up a lot and cross over in the public realm project,” says Khan. “The idea from HE Reem Al Hashimi was to build a place full of details and stories from the region,” he continues. “I loved her thought that the Expo can be an opportunity to communicate that cultural value to the world, not only in the way it looks to history but in the way it looks to the future as well. That is what we tried to do, in the spirit of the UAE and Dubai, but also in the spirit of the World Expo. Her Excellency was always saying, ‘Think of the public realm as the biggest pavilion on the Expo site. It is the place that connects all the people and the countries.’” Khan remembers his first day at the Expo 2020 site in 2016, during his second visit to Dubai: “I said, ‘I just want to go out there and walk on this site and get a feel of it’ and it was quite unexpected [for me] to say this, I think. I went out – I was wearing a suit – and I took my shoes off and I walked around with bare feet on the sand. It was a very powerful moment for me. I was trying to connect with things deeper or more distant. I was trying to read the landscape and get some clues. “What I noticed when I was walking there was that there were tracks in the sand and the tiny tracks of animals, of vehicles and of people walking, and all these things overlapped. What I realised is that the overlapping of paths is part of the natural vocabulary of the desert. While they change and shift over time, it is the way the desert remembers the ideas that have transferred across it.” This overlapping of different tracks that reflect different modes and speeds of human movement led to the creation of the six kilometres of pedestrian walkways using different materials – ranging from grass to gravel – and elements, such as a running track and buggy lane. All these various sections for travel across the Expo site are complemented by a six-kilometre linear belt of greenery and trees, comprising a variety of different plant species, with pockets for rest in between. At times, the different lines interweave and merge to create Al Sadu weaving motifs as wayfinding, marking different venues, resting areas and crossing points – a metaphor for the idea of connection that relates to the overall theme of the Expo. This is only one of the many delightful nuances that Khan has imagined for the public realm,

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many of which are so subtle that one must periodically visit the site to gain a full understanding of the many narratives that weave across its public spaces. Another example is his collaboration with Emirati contemporary artist and water colourist Abdul Qader El Rais, who invented two distinct colours for the columns in the public realm – including the ones that hold up the shading canopies. ‘Ghaf Green’ and ‘Ghaf Grey’ are inspired by the bark and canopy of his favourite ghaf tree that sits outside his home and studio. Another important collaboration was that of the calligraphic benches, designed by Lebanese digital typographer Lara Captan. The concept of the benches relates back to Khan’s research of the landscape, and reading the works of poets from the region that best helped him gain a deeper understanding. “I started to understand that the Arabic word, in its written form, was something very precious and that the written word carried so much of the meaning, wrapped up in the way it is written, through its physical strokes,” Khan explains. For the benches, Captan designed a typeface that is an extension of the different calligraphic traditions, with the aim of showcasing the nuances of the handwritten form so they are not lost in the age of digitisation. “By making these benches as script forms, I wanted to draw attention to the importance of Arabic script and how it binds together so many countries that share Arabic as a common language. This was particularly important to me at this international Expo, to show visitors how important this language is to the region and how it has timeless value. My hope is that if you are a visitor from overseas, you may learn a word of Arabic or you may learn the appearance of an Arabic word. And by placing these benches throughout the public realm, and by a visitor sitting on them at various times during their day, they are constructing a poem word by word,” Khan shares. One of the interesting elements of the benches is how the forms of the words (which were crowdsourced via social media) mirror their meaning. “What you’ll notice is that words like ‘friendship’ are more inward-facing and encourage people to sit together, and words like ‘vision’ make you look to the horizon. Lara Captan and I tried for it to be a bit of a linguistic experiment. We called it a socio-linguistic experiment, where each word form is created to make you inhabit it in a certain way. It comes to life in the way it is used, and the usage is significant of its meaning.”


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Khan and his team also developed a special lighting system called ‘Second Sunset’, which has been matched to the shade of Dubai’s golden hour and extends beyond sunset by 40 minutes, gently moving on to a warm white shade; then, in the night, it changes again to a warm candlelit glow. “It uses the natural triggers that are part of our circadian rhythm and is a new approach to the lighting of cities,” he shares. Khan has also designed the Garden in the Sky observation deck which, over time, will become a flourishing garden. It stands 55 metres high and rotates to offer panoramic views over the entire site and beyond. The Worker’s Monument, made from Omani limestone, was the last piece of the puzzle, and commemorates the 200,000 workers who have helped build the Expo. “I’m really proud of what we have achieved,” says Khan. “It’s somewhere I personally love being and seeing people interact with it. It feels as though it has been there for a long time, which is something unexpected for a new place. I think this comes from trying to build something with a sense of place, through observation and research. “I think it’s a powerful prototype for another way of living in Dubai; another kind of urban mode,” he continues. “In the spirit of the Expo, each generation has to add to the discourse of urban design as well as architecture and engineering, and I feel we’ve done that.” id

Photography by Asif Khan

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cover story

Rumi Dalle posing next to The Architect wall tapestry designed for Iwan Maktabi, part of a collection called 'It felt like a dream'

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Crafting dreams Rumi Dalle lifts the veil to reveal a fascinating world of creativity on the edge of reality and imagination WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA PHOTOGRAPHY BY TAREK MOUKADDEM IN COLLABORATION WITH IWAN MAKTABI

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The 7-metre ÉtoileFilante wraps around Dalle, made with silk, velvet and wool for Iwan Maktabi


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here are numerous ways one can describe the work of Lebanese artist and designer Rumi Dalle, although many choose to settle on words like ‘fantastical’ or ‘otherworldly’. Perhaps it is the curious selection and combination of materials, her sensual compositions or even the daring forms that have the ability to spark both fascination and unease. “I think the right word [for my work is] ‘timeless’. When you look at something that is timeless, it connects the past with the present and the future. That’s why it feels fantastical or otherworldly; it is ageless, you can’t put a date to it. It even feels alien,” Dalle muses. “It looks futuristic but also ancient; but to me, the right word is ‘timeless’.” Dalle’s career began with designing window displays for retail outlets, which she says she appreciates as displaying art for the public, instead of in a gallery which not everyone is able to access. “Art should be everywhere; it should be on the street, it should be what you’re wearing; it

Look at Me incorporates an antique mirror

should not be between closed halls in an all-white environment,” she says. “A window display is appreciated by everyone.” Her first collaboration involved creating Magrabi Optical window displays for businesswoman and art patron Cherine Magrabi Tayeb. She then went on to design for Hermès in Beirut and Paris and is now a Hermès-certified designer, conceiving themes for its boutiques around the world. Much of Dalle’s sensibility and approach to design stems from her childhood experiences and her observations about women in Lebanese society – including her mother. Dalle was born in the aftermath of the Lebanese Civil War which had left the country in tough circumstances, and many women were forced to take on domestic crafts such as sewing clothes for their families. “I like to work with women who are not trained as professional artisans but who work out of their homes,” Dalle expIains. “I think this goes back to my childhood, to watching my mom for example, and how she started sewing clothes. It is craftsmanship that is born out of necessity and not out of luxury – and this fascinates me.” As a child Dalle would create dolls from scraps that she found around the house, be it fabric or even tissue paper. “This goes back to the idea of using what’s around the house, which relates to recycling and sustainability. This is really how I started experimenting with materials and textures and surfaces – it all came out of necessity. Then, of course, I went on to design school and I wanted to reflect on that: being a child growing up in a lower-to-middle class family and looking back at those societies and those circumstances and really studying that. And stretching it into my work today. That’s really what I’m interested in.” One of Dalle’s biggest collaborators to date is third-generation carpet gallery Iwan Maktabi, with whom she’s worked for 12 years. Their latest project, which was showcased at Nomad Circle this year, is called ‘It felt like a dream’ and comprises a collection of sculptural wall tapestries that are made from felt. The project is part of the gallery’s wider Iwan Maktabi Lab initiative which focuses on collaborations that drive and experiment with culture, creativity and craft. For the collection, Dalle travelled to Konya in Turkey to meet a family of felt makers who for generations have devoted their craft to making felt rugs and kepeneks for shepherds, and who have restored the earliest sikkes of the dervishes which are now found in Mevlana Museum – the mausoleum of Jalal ad-Din Muhammed Rumi, the famous Sufi mystic and poet. THE IMAGINATION ISSUE

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Flaneur Foever II window installation for 46Beirut. Hermès

Image courtesy of Rumi Dalle


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An unexpected turn of events led to Dalle instead collaborating with the wife of the master felt maker Mehmet, which absolutely transformed the experience for her. “I watched as a craft that has been dominated by men for centuries unfolded through the fingers and feeling of Theresa. It was the same material, yet handled in a more vulnerable and honest way, becoming more emotional and sensual, less dogmatic, more spiritual, still present and mindful,” the artist recounts. In felting, as with many other centuries-old crafts, women often found themselves relegated to the home, to private spaces, while men were in the public eye, in workshops and felt-making saunas. The process of felting rugs centres on a man’s physical form, as it requires strength to carry the weight and agitate the wool. “A lot of my work, when it comes to craft, is about the dynamics between men and women. My research looks at how crafts carried by women hold a special form of intimacy,” Dalle explains. While her work is inspired by tradition and folklore, the intention is always to break the said tradition by focusing on memory and how that can be translated. “It’s more about playing on memory than focusing on the tradition of the crafts,” she explains. “I’m not interested in the craft itself as much as I am interested in the memory. I always have this problem with the person teaching me the craft, which is that I’m not here to just learn about a step-by-step process, I need to learn about the memory and the spirituality behind the craft and the storytelling, not only about the process. I, myself, can break the process and break the grid and recreate it.” For Dalle, what is even more important than the craft is the material which precedes the craft and informs the entire process. “When I touch material, it has poetry to it. Material speaks; it’s like strata, it’s like skin, it’s not a dead object,” Dalle says. “Then I seek out the craft for that material. When you start to think of material as a living object, you realise that it is also timeless.” Dalle’s latest project is designing the scenography of the Beirut Concept Store for this year’s Dubai Design Week, which consists of a 100-square metre space exhibiting the works of Lebanese designers. For this, the artist has collected linens from Lebanese families – some of which date back to the 1950s, others as recent as the Beirut Blast – resulting in an installation of over 1000 pillows called ‘The Dream’. “It’s really about composing a

Lebanese dream. Most of the pillows were brought from houses of middle-to-lower class families, and the detailing on the pillows is amazing.” The pillowcases are all used and have marks of wear and tear, and even burn marks. “People didn’t have money to spend on new pillow covers so what they did is spend hours and hours mending these pillows. And we are not talking about stitching; they actually removed the threads from the pillow and connected it with another thread. We call this ‘ratti’. It’s a technique of weaving which is usually done with very expensive rugs, not pillow covers. But imagine, people in Lebanon did it with pillow

Eyewear Wonderlad for The Counter in Beirut

covers. That just gave me goosebumps,” Dalle says. The installation is also about a country that is healing and mending itself, she adds. And while working as a designer in Lebanon has its many challenges – especially with the current crisis in the aftermath of the port explosion – Dalle insists that she will not leave her home country behind. “All of my work is inspired by the situation in Lebanon. I am very connected to my artisans; we are like family; I cannot leave them,” she says. “It is my workspace and my community. When your ship is sinking, you cannot just leave and let everyone else sink.” id

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Image courtesy of Rumi Dalle


design focus

Naturally minimal Natural finishes and minimal lines come together to express a new pared-back experience in the bathrooms of homes, spas and wellness spaces WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA

WET System by Wall&decò

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summer styles

Equilibrio by Gessi

WET System 2021 As the bathroom becomes increasingly akin to a living area in its own right, interior elements are being put together to give the space a lived-in look – be they hard surfaces, rugs, collectible objects, lighting or, in the case of Wall&decò, waterproof sheaths that could be the perfect backdrop for washbasins and cabinets or, alternatively, used to decorate the shower area and add ambiance. The brand’s latest WET System collection finds a new way of expressing nature in a minimalist way by incorporating simple shapes that are organic and fluid, and without edges. These shapes are complemented by materials such as earth and clay and rendered in muted shades of cream and beige for a calming and natural effect. Tiberino The freestanding Tiberino washbasin cabinet, part of Cielo’s new Arcadia collection designed by Studio APG, exemplifies minimalist flair while embracing nature through its geometric shape. With its round ceramic top on which rest an elegantly small basin and wooden cabinet, the design is understated but is sure to stand out in any interior, thanks to its graceful form. The handle is a thin, full-height section that doubles as a decorative element.

Callipyge by Trone

Equilibrio It comes as no surprise that a chance encounter between designer Maurizio Scutellà and artist-philosopher Marsel Lesko led to the creation of the poetic Equilibrio mixer by Gessi. Conceptualised to resonate with one’s mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing, the mixer’s form is evocative of a stone in a correlation of curves and ‘anti-curves’, translating the natural sculpture into a functional archetype. It comes in a range of natural finishes including metal, stone and wood. AXOR Citterio Antonio Citterio’s design classic – the Axor Citterio collection – has been reinterpreted by the brand. The understated yet luxurious collection celebrates the preciousness of water itself, featuring balanced proportions and elegant geometries. It comprises an exceptionally wide range of products and options, including taps with different handle styles — pin, cross handle, original lever handle, and a new lever handle that is even more precise, intuitive and easy to use. The extensive array allows for endless individual solutions within a consistent, geometric design language.

Tiberino by Cielo

Callipyge Trone’s toilets are as whimsical as they are minimal, and its latest Callipyge collection is no different. The wall-hung toilets feature sculptural silhouettes that transform the toilets themselves into decorative pieces, and are described by the French brand as the first asymmetrical toilet bowls to ever be created. The three-level ceramic tiering echoes tiers of seating in vintage theatres and is sure to bring character to any space. Axor Citterio by Antonio Citterio for AXOR

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sponsored content

Time travel Trend’s futuristic installation, designed by Kristina Zanic, will launch THG’s sleek Icon X collection as well as a new mosaic collection featuring various wood cuts and species

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rend’s installation at Dubai Design Week is designed to shuttle visitors into the future. A collaboration of many, the concept – developed by Kristina Zanic – was driven by French bathroom fittings manufacturer THG’s approach to design, with its latest Icon X collection – designed by Studio F.A. Porsche – to be launched inside the futuristic pavilion, embodying elements of its sleek, modern and timeless design. The result is a bathroom installation like no other, inspired by the dreamers and time travellers of the world – portraying the fast pace of life and reflecting one’s journey. The space-like display of Icon X taps and handles will be revealed in its various finishes through an infinity mirror that resembles an endless portal into a mysterious dimension.

The collection will be displayed on a floating 3D ‘mountain’ covered in Trend’s glass mosaics in gold, depicting the beautiful scenery which one can enjoy through one life’s journey, and encouraging visitors to stop and enjoy the moment. Kristina Zanic has also designed a new collection for Trends which reveals itself through a feature wall incorporating patterns of various wood cuts and species. The installation’s exterior is covered in reflective glass tiles by Trend in a staggered 3D pattern, inspired by the shuttle aerodynamics. The corners of the façade will be finished in back-lit ‘Black Diamond’ terrazzo, which evokes the essence of the galaxy as it glows throughout the night. The installation is located in front of Trend’s showroom in Building 6 in Dubai Design District.

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interiors

London calling This Notting Hill penthouse was created by interior design and property development firm Banda as a contemporary yet timeless urban refuge WORDS BY KARINE MONIÉ PHOTOGRAPHY BY BANDA/BEN ANDERS

Original Pierre Jeanneret teak chairs and cane dining chairs sourced directly from Chandigarh, India Raku Yaki triple wall lights by Emmanuelle Simon, from StudioTwentySeven Wobble ceiling light by Alexandra Robson, sourced from The New Craftsmen

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interiors Fireplace designed by Banda Design Studio in black Marquina marble Large distressed overmantle antique mirror, sourced from Puckhaber in Rye, UK Modern abstract on canvas (2020) artwork by Hayden Alexander Polished plaster, steel and stone coffee table with a tadelakt coating, by Tuomas Markunpoika Antique chairs by Joaquim Tenreiro, sourced directly from Brazil Coral & Hive bespoke rug created specifically for Apt 9. Commissioned by Banda Design Studio Tassel pendant light from Apparatus

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“W

e believe, first and foremost, that houses should be homes, and spaces should be built not only to be lived in, but to be loved.” The philosophy of Banda Design Studio, led by CEO Edo Mapelli Mozzi, pervades every nook of this 240-square metre apartment located in one of London’s most coveted neighbourhoods. Overlooking a garden square close to Westbourne Grove and Hyde Park, and nestled on the fifth floor of a beautiful building with a stucco façade dating back to 1850, this dream penthouse also comprises a 46-square metre private roof terrace, accessible through a spiral staircase, providing the best of indoor-outdoor living in the heart of the British capital. With entry via the lift or the stairwell, the space features an entrance hall adorned with a silk sculptural piece by Ursula Nistrup and Lotte Henriksen. Mounted on the wall, the piece sets the tone for the sophisticated atmosphere that characterises the apartment. The open-plan layout with high ceilings and traditional original oak beams immediately makes the living area warm and bright, evoking a charming French barn. Low-level furniture helps to emphasise the eaves. For this project, Banda Design Studio created several made-to-measure pieces, including the black Nero Marquina marble fireplace, which is the star of the show in the living room. An antique mirror from Puckhaber in London sits above it. A mix of fabrics such as the Coral & Hive rug, as well as the linen, cotton and velvet sofas, brings the inviting ambience to life. The refined look is complemented by a pair of mid-century chairs by Brazilian designer Joaquim Tenreiro, the tadelakt coffee table by Tuomas Markunpoika, the Tassel pendant light by Apparatus, and a historic army bed in oak and steel from Studio Oliver Gustav that’s used as a vintage bookshelf. To add even more texture, the walls were all

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finished in a highly sustainable (100% natural and non-toxic) clay (with temperature-regulating properties) from Studio LoHo in Belgium. A big opening with double doors invites dwellers to step into the dining area, where original Pierre Jeanneret chairs surround a table dressed in linen, and the Raku Yaki triple wall sconces by Emmanuelle Simon give a brass touch. In the Obumex Banda kitchen, the dark grey marble island and backsplash both contrast and balance with the rest of the colour palette of moss greens, khaki, taupe and creamy shades. “The feeling of nature and light is ever-present, with the materials used and the views over the garden square,” says Mapelli Mozzi. “With their own private, expansive terrace, the owners can seek solace high above Notting Hill and fully immerse themselves in the sense of overall calm.” Influenced by the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi – which finds beauty in imperfection – Mapelli Mozzi combined timeless elegance and quality craftsmanship in this urban refuge where a sense of calm prevails. The same feeling continues in the private areas, which consist of a guest cloakroom and two bedrooms with a shared central bathroom. With its vintage sheepskin chair and footstool, a Stark rug underfoot and an oak bench from Rose Uniacke, the peaceful master suite includes several contemporary pieces by Apparatus – such as the Drum occasional side tables in natural parchment and burl veneer, and the Surface wall mounts – which are complemented by a mesmerising artwork by Liam Stevens, sourced from Francis Gallery. “This newly designed penthouse embodies the Banda ‘design for living’ mantra perfectly,” says Mapelli Mozzi. “We’ve thought long and hard about how families want to live now that we’re emerging from the pandemic. Our aim was to create a large lateral space with the opportunity to seek retreat.” id


The Alexander sofa by Charles Zana in ‘Teddy Mohair’ by Pierre Frey Wallcovering uses wool from Rose Uniacke

Rug by Stark Stone wash flat sheets from Linen Me Acrylic and pencil on canvas artwork by Liam Stevens Oak bench from Rose Uniacke in pippy oak

Sideboard in jacaranda and natural cane, by Carlo Hauner Artwork by Tracey Emin and Greg Irby

The walls are finished in a fine green clay plaster from Studio LoHo Vintage sheep skin chair


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Parisian minimalism Designed by Studiovlach, this French apartment delicately combines classic features and contemporary elements while using varying tones of wood for a warm yet chic atmosphere WORDS BY KARINE MONIÉ IMAGES: COURTESY OF STUDIOVLACH

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ocated in the Latin Quarter of the fifth arrondissement in Paris, on the Left Bank of the Seine, this home is the result of a complete makeover led by young, promising interior architecture and furniture company Studiovlach, which was launched in 2020 by Thomas Vlach. The French designer started his career with English designer Matt Sindall, an experience that led him to develop his scenography and furniture design skills. Then, in collaboration with several architecture studios, Vlach designed concepts for fashion boutiques and renovated private Parisian apartments. This project, however, is entirely his. “The brief was simple,” Vlach remembers. “I had a lot of freedom to suggest what seemed to be the best for the project.” One of the few requirements for this 94-square metre, one-bedroom apartment consisted of organising the interior spaces around the double living room, with the objective of allowing the owners – a couple – to easily host guests.

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Placed in what was an old corridor and a small hallway that was expanded during the renovation, the kitchen only comprises what is essential, including the Endless pendant by Roll & Hill, Adam stools from Frama, as well as the equally functional and beautiful Ceppo di Gré stone island and cabinets covered in a walnut stained veneer. To invite more natural light inside, Vlach created a partition made of vertical glass ‘bricks’ that sits between this space and the adjacent peaceful bathroom, which is adorned with a Cassina stool and Bloomsbury sconces by RUBN, and covered in Calacatta marble, providing an elegant atmosphere. The kitchen opens up into the dining room, where a Trapeze 7 Mobile pendant by Apparatus, two Tubus double light fixtures on the wall by Contain, the object ‘L’Oiseau’ by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec and the Oasis vase by Northern dialogue with the Studiovlach-designed solid larch wood table – whose raw tabletop combines with legs coated in burgundy – while C-Chairs from Gubi surround it.


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Maxalto, Aurea Sofa Cassina, Capitol chairs Cassina, Méribel Stool Fireplace and sideboard, Studiovlach Coffee table en Ceppo di Gré, Studiovlach THE IMAGINATION ISSUE

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Apparatus, Trapèze mobile 7 Contain Studio, Tubus simple Gubi, C-chair Dining Table, Studiovlach

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Ananbô wallpaper, Tasratana &Tradition, Journey wall light Nightstands and headboard, Studiovlach

560 wingback chair by Patricia Urquiola for Cassina Muuto, Linear table lamp

The minimalist and contemporary look continues in the living room, which is bathed in natural light thanks to the big windows that offer charming views of Parisian rooftops. In this area, where the crown mouldings and ceiling medallions are an ode to the typical Haussmann style, a pair of leather Capitol Complex armchairs from Cassina that pay tribute to Pierre Jeanneret add mid-century touches, while the green velvet sofa by Maxalto brings a twist of colour to the otherwise soft and muted palette. The made-to-measure coffee table in Ceppo di Gré stone and the bookshelves on each side of the fireplace were created by Vlach, reflecting his fascination for simple forms and for noble and durable materials as ways to give a unique identity to every project. “I wanted to use as much wood as possible, for the many possibilities it offers in terms of textures and finishing,” Vlach says. “I love to create spaces with different tones of wood, to enrich the

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Floor and walls, calacatta marble Cassina, Civic bench RUBN, bloomsbury wall light

visual proposal and generate contrasts from only one material.” The parquet flooring was tinted with a very dark colour to make every design feature and decorative accessory stand out, while plaster in a clear tone covers the walls. Secluded from the rest of the areas, the bedroom, which is accessible though the living room, was furnished with the 560 Back-Wing chair, designed by Patricia Urquiola for Cassina, which sits in the office nook; the Ananbô wallpaper with motifs of exotic vegetation as an invitation to travel; and the Journey sconce by &Tradition; while Studiovlach designed the headboard and nightstands. “My intention was to connect contemporary and classic without making one prevail over the other,” explains Vlach. “I trusted my intuitions without really questioning them. What seems interesting to me is that the project looks vintage. However, there are – surprisingly – just a few retro pieces.” id


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Island in Ceppo di Gré, Studiovlach Roll & Hill, Endless pendant Frama CPH, Adam stool

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Life in frames This renovated home in Amman balances locally made furniture and objects with international design classics to create an eclectic atmosphere WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA

Superleggera dining chairs by Gio Ponti 24 carat Blau light by Ingo Maurer ‘Butterfly’ artwork by Eva Obodo Table by Greenwood Barton Architects

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Kingston chair and footrest by William Plunkett Falena floor standing lamp by Alvaro Siza E1027 table by Eileen Gray Bed by Greenwood Barton Architects

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Rug sourced from TO&FROM Oak day bed and painted cupboards by Greenwood Barton Architects

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newlywed couple, Zeid Salfiti and Tina Bouri, commissioned Amman-based Greenwood Barton Architects – led by Matthew Barton and Somayya Abu Hayeh – to refurbish their home in Amman in a way that expresses their interests and allows for a sense of flexibility as they begin to build their lives together. “They do not own the apartment and it was not clear for how long they would stay,” Barton begins. “We were therefore asked to concentrate on improving the feeling – particularly the flow of energy – throughout the existing interior, but to work on the basis that the main expenditure should be in the objects rather than in the building’s fabric. We were asked to refurbish the apartment and to specify key pieces of furniture, around which a collection could be grown over time.” The project began with the main living spaces but later expanded to include the

guest bedrooms and bathrooms, in addition to contributing a large collection of locally made, bespoke furniture. When the architects began their task of upgrading the home’s existing interiors, they were confronted with a space that was large in its proportions but poorly laid out, with low ceilings and disorienting structures. “Our first task was to remove and clear away the unnecessary structures to reveal the potential of the space,” Barton explains. “We removed the false ceilings, maximised door heights between the rooms and demolished a utility space to create a generous entrance hall which orientates you as soon as you enter.” The architects additionally opened up the space in other areas of the home, creating a terrace and adding a dressing room. The entrance hall floor is tiled in shades of white and grey/brown marble based on sketches by Paul Klee, from his book Theory of Form and Figuration.


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Above left: Parliament floor light by Le Corbusier. Console by Greenwood Barton Architects. Right: De Marseille wall light by Le Corbusier, Paulistano armchair by Mendes da Rocha; painted bed and side table by Greenwood Barton Architects

From there, rooms with contrasting atmospheres and furnishings offer a wide range of uses and experiences, reflecting the clients’ open brief and international upbringings (Tina is Lebanese, but grew up in Nigeria and was educated in Europe). Across the interiors, one is met by a large number of bespoke, locally produced furniture items, which coexist with hand-carved Nigerian tables and sculpture, alongside design classics by the likes of Eileen Gray, Le Corbusier, Álvaro Siza, Piero Lissoni, Gio Ponti, Isamu Noguchi, Ingo Maurer and others. Together, they give the impression of a collection built over time. “The arrangement of furniture in the reception room where the clients often host their friends is unconventional and informal,” Barton describes. “It is a large room, and although there are distinct areas – a dining space with a view of the city, a large sofa facing the balcony and

an area of low seating and cushions – these face one another, anticipating and encouraging social interaction. A smaller, more private living room with a balcony was imagined as a kind of winter garden; the furniture and materials of the balcony are similar to [those of] the interior, and both are densely planted. We were thinking at the time of the conservatory in Alvar Aalto’s Villa Mairea.” Barton adds that the team was inspired by homes that possess a sense of timelessness; ones that “accommodate life rather than frame it”, like those of Lina Bo Bardi in Brazil or Geoffrey Bawa in Sri Lanka, which speak to the passions of their owners. “The limited availability of well-designed, well-made furniture [in Jordan] and the cost of importing led us to produce over 40 bespoke objects. We designed objects we knew could be made well using locally available materials by local makers – including a carpenter,

painter, upholsterer, stone mason and metal worker – and we worked according to the limitations and possibilities they offered,” Barton explains. The large scope of bespoke furniture included a dining table with a thick walnut top and a limestone base, low seating upholstered in natural linen (which recalls traditional Arabic seating, but with curves), and anodised aluminium shelving. The architects also designed a walnut coffee table with five triangular feet to complement the owner’s traditional side tables which had been purchased in Nigeria. The apartment also includes artworks by Nigerian artists Eva Obodo and Gerald Chukwuma. “Luckily, Zeid and Tina are risk-takers,” Barton says of the homeowners. “Although much of the main renovation work was carried out without their oversight, over time they trusted us to interpret their needs and expanded our scope significantly.” id

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thought leadership

Breaking barriers Kaiser Kitchens offers designs that are a direct response to what homeowners want for their kitchens today

WORDS BY SAMIR RANAVAYA

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aiser German Kitchens is a fresh new concept, brought to Dubai by the team that launched Häcker Kitchens. Based on the ‘concept130’ developed at Häcker Kitchen Germany, Kaiser Kitchens have been designed in response to decades of research, which revealed that the majority of kitchen consumers want only the bare essentials in terms of accessories and functionality, without compromising on quality. This way, affordable prices can be maintained, enabling high-quality products to be made available to a wider consumer base. Simply put, Kaiser German Kitchens fulfil the highest standards of quality, offering the essentials of a kitchen at more affordable prices. For example, a Kaiser German Kitchen starts at AED 50,000. While Häcker prides itself as the epitome of luxurious materials and at the pinnacle of cutting-edge design, Kaiser trims down the range to meet the demands of a wider consumer base at a lower price range.

This is achieved through sheer scale of manufacturing. At the same time, Kaiser Kitchens can call on Häcker’s experience and know-how to create supreme-quality kitchens that are made in Germany. Kaiser is all about maximising value for money and opening up the possibility for the wider market to experience a high-quality German kitchen. Research has shown that almost three-quarters of the kitchens produced in the last 20 years are in white and neutral colours, which is why the same number of Kaiser Kitchen ranges reflect just that. Research also shows that around 80 per cent of kitchen customers choose only 20 per cent of the options available. With this in mind, Kaiser focuses on responding to clients’ desires without wasting resources outside of that realm. With sustainability being top of mind for the brand, Kaiser Kitchens are produced through a carbon neutral process, further drawing on Häcker’s know-how and eco-conscious ethos.

Samir Ranavaya is the co-founder of Häcker Kitchens Dubai

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thought leadership

THE IMAGINATION ISSUE

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products

Reflective surfaces From mirrored effects to coloured glass, this month we explore furniture, lighting and objects that can reflect your own image back at you – including Gallotti&Radice's 1970s President Senior table and M2Atelier's Uyuni mirror for Giorgetti

President Senior Gallotti&Radice Available at gallottiradice.it

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1. Tunnel hanging lamp by Federico Peri for Baxter. Available at baxter.it 2. Fazzoletto vase by Venini. Available at venini.com 3. White Beoplay A9 speakers. Available at bang-olufsen.com 4. Rebecca cypress & chili hand-cut crystal candle by Reflections Copenhagen. Available at matchesfashion.com 5. Uyuni mirror by M2Atelier for Giorgetti. Available at giorgettimeda.com 6. Pour Over carafe by Yield. Available at yielddesign.co

THE IMAGINATION ISSUE

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library

Timeless influence Art Deco Style presents a visual history of how the French-born design ‘style’ influenced – and was influenced by – the world

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rt Deco is not a style,” argues Jared Goss in the introduction for Assouline’s Art Deco Style, part of the publishing house’s ‘Style’ book series. Goss is an independent scholar and former associate curator in the department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art who states that Art Deco is perhaps among the most ambiguous terms in the field of design history, “commonly used to describe a vast range of decorative arts, architecture and even fine arts produced internationally between the First and Second World Wars”. Born in France at the dawn of the twentieth century with the aim of creating a design language that would suit the needs and tastes of the modern world, it first crystalised in Paris with the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. Since then, it encompassed a multitude of decorative influences, including the updating of historical styles, the introduction of elements that were rooted outside European artistic traditions and the adaptation of avant-garde art currents such as the geometric abstraction of Cubism.

“Art Deco is not a single, unified style: Its aesthetic expressions were as wide-ranging as the places and times where it appeared, and as diverse as the markets it served,” Goss writes. “The term ‘Art Deco’ has been used to describe everything from a preciously sumptuous ancient Egyptian– inspired jewel made by the French branch of Cartier in 1913 to the futuristic yet functional streamlined outboard motor made for the giant American retailer Sears in 1936 – polar opposites in every way.” Encompassing every discipline within the applied arts, Art Deco manifested itself – to some extent – everywhere around the world and is perhaps the first design idiom ever to do so. Its fundamental appeal lay in its decorative 72

qualities, and it became a symbol for modernity, sophistication, glamour and the optimism of technological progress. “[Art Deco] is both maharaja’s jewels and Depression glass. Since all of these are absolutely correct, perhaps ‘idiom’, ‘taste’ or ‘sensibility’ are more accurate words to describe the global phenomenon of Art Deco,” Joss says. Art Deco Style presents itself through a wide-ranging and captivating selection of images – both artworks and photographs – showcasing varied influences that Art Deco instilled around the world, from jewellery and fashion to architecture, furniture and industrial design, which expresses the multifaceted allure of this global design phenomenon and its perennial appeal.


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Circle of life Casamia is repurposing waste tiles into everyday objects for the home and office

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ne of the largest interior solutions store, Casamia has now launched an upcycled collection created by repurposing excess, discarded or damaged pieces of tiles into aesthetically pleasing everyday objects. The firm’s aim is to add to the continued life of its materials by sourcing scattered and fragmented pieces, which come together to create something new. The series comprises modern and minimally designed tabletop decorative objects, including a board game of x’s and o’s as well as coasters. “This initiative is rooted in the essence of continuity, and a greater sense of responsibility”, says Mohib Mithani, CSO at Casamia. “The possibilities are endless if we are to

really repurpose the material and extend its life, hence we are trying to re-craft it into objects that will find homes in the hearts of creatives and aesthetic-lovers”. The board game is seamlessly fabricated out of single pieces of tile, each with their own characteristics and colours, that come together to form a whole. The coasters, on the other hand, have a more terrazzo-like visual appeal, with a hexagonal shape that is the ideal size to hold office beverages or small-sized plant pots. “We are very excited about how a small initiative to upcycle discarded material has turned into a story that has garnered a lot of interest amongst our clients and network,” Mithani says.

THE IMAGINATION ISSUE

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id most wanted

Swedish artist and illustrator Siri Carlén’s playful Monster collection for Hem features lively patterns and bold colours that exaggerate various markings found in nature, such as ‘messy and imprecise’ animal prints. Comprising fluffy mohair throws and hand-knotted soft wool rugs, the chosen textures give the pieces a shaggy yet lustrous look that bears resemblance to a monster.

Photography by Erik Lefvander

Monster by Siri Carlén for Hem 74